Restaurant has a wait

Neighbors both for and against the expansion of L’angolo Ristorante had something to chew on at a fact-finding meeting last Wednesday.

About 35 residents heard from a spokesperson for the restaurant’s owners and city officials at Guerin Recreation Center, 16th and Jackson streets.

Contractors began work on a second floor and stairway that would extend to the sidewalk last month. Husband-and-wife owners Davide and Kathryn Faenza plan to house up to 25 more patrons in the addition to their eatery at Rosewood and Porter streets.

However, when an elderly neighbor’s daughter discovered that L’angolo lacked the required building permits, the Department of Licenses and Inspections put an end to the work.

At last week’s meeting, a Faenza family friend who identified himself only by his first name, Michael, said the restaurant owners had hired an expeditor to help acquire the permits. Expeditors work on behalf of busy property owners to process paperwork and speed up other L&I; requirements. Michael said he was unsure when the expeditor submitted plans to L&I.;

The owners did acquire demolition permits, which were used to renovate the upstairs portion of the restaurant.

However, aside from the building permits, the restaurant also lacked a zoning variance to build a stairway onto the sidewalk.

The contractors who L’angolo hired had assumed that the restaurant was approved for construction permits, and work began on the outside staircase, Michael said.

The restaurant has no other outstanding violations, Deputy L&I; Commissioner Dominic Verdi said at the meeting.

The commissioner could not comment on whether L’angolo’s plans are legal until L&I; reviews them.

According to John Furey, president of the Broad Street West Civic Association, L&I; will refuse the restaurant’s application for building permits, forcing the matter to a hearing before the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Furey expects a zoning hearing to take place in late January or early February.

L’angolo’s building plans were laid on a table for neighbors to review at the end of the meeting.

Anna Marie Scafisi, of the 2400 block of South Rosewood Street, is a fan of the restaurant, and wouldn’t mind having more of it.

"It shows South Philly for what it really is — a good hometown," she said. "I, for one, want to expand the restaurant. We need it in this neighborhood."

But Albert Cataldi, a lifelong resident of the same block, said he was bothered by the way L’angolo pursued its expansion.

"I have a problem with them not being neighborly," he said. "After the fact, they want to talk when they’re told they can’t do it. Then, they want to be neighbors."